Archive for the ‘Daring Baker’s’ Category

Ahhh! Paris!!!

Paris is one of my absolute favorite places on the planet. I’ve been lucky enough to travel there numerous times in the last decade and can’t wait to go again.  The romance, the architecture, the art, the cafe lifestyle; all sublime. But the best part about Paris is, of course, the food. I’m already seriously researching where to eat for my next trip in May. Yes, that’s right. It’s 8 months away and I’m still spending way too much time, every day, dreaming about what I’ll eat when I get there.

One of the many things I so love about Paris is that there’s an incredible bakery on almost every corner of every neighborhood in the city. Even the mediocre, non-artisan boulangeries have goods that beat anything I can get anywhere even close to my whole town. In Paris there are warm crusty baguettes available at almost any time of day, gorgeous, elegant pastries in every imaginable (and unimaginable) flavor. And of course, buttery, flaky, croissants. Who doesn’t love to start their day with a French roasted expresso and a fresh baked croissant? Heaven! And simply not available here in my neck of the woods. Unless of course I bake them myself, which I’ve sworn more than once, I would never do. It’s way to many steps, way too much waiting around for the various rises of the dough, and way to many calories to consume if I had a whole batch coming out of my very own oven. Plus, I knew I could never make them taste anything like ones in Paris.

Breads and pastries in Paris  

Well surprise, surprise! Just as I was salivating while researching which excellent bakery will be closest to the apartment I’m renting in Paris next May, (Le Grenier a Pain) I find out that the Daring Bakers go retro this month! Thanks to one of our very talented non-blogging members, Sarah, the Daring Bakers were challenged to make Croissants using a recipe from the Queen of French Cooking, none other than Julia Child! I guess I would be attempting homemade croissants after all.

I decided that if I was to do it at all, I’d try my best to do it right. I bought hand churned organic, cultured butter that was 85% butter fat and Callibaut for the chocolate ones I’d make. I followed the steps in Julia’s recipe religiously and patiently waited for the dough to rest and rise in it’s various stages.

The first rise

Folded and twice risen

I worked the butter until it was spreadable but still cool and carefully folded, turned, rolled, folded and turned. I let it rest for 2 hours and repeated the folding, turning. rolling and folding once again. And then, after an overnight rest in the fridge, I formed the croissants.

Butter spread and ready for folding and turning

The first croissant, finally shaped!!!

Patient again, I waited for them to rise a final time before double brushing them with egg wash and popping them into the oven.

Finally ready to bake!

It took a total of twenty hours to make 4 plain croissants and 6 pains au chocolate. As expected, they were expensive, time consuming, and challenging. I won’t be making them again any time soon but the surprise was that they were every bit as good as some of the best I’ve eaten in Paris. Crisp, flaky, buttery layers of deliciousness. I put on a pot of coffee and ate most of them warm, right out of the oven. I could almost imagine I was in Paris!!!

Fresh baked croissants! YUM!!!

Pain au chocolate anyone? yes please!!

And the bonus was the outrageous bread pudding I made from the 2 day old chocolate croissants I didn’t manage to stuff down when they were fresh.

Chocolate croissant bread pudding

And now, after a weekend of consuming close to a pound of butter (not to mention the heavy cream in the bread pudding!) it’s definitely back on the diet bandwagon.


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It’s that time of the month again: The Daring Bakers Challenge Post. The August 2011 Daring Bakers’ Challenge was hosted by Lisa of Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drive and Mandy of What the Fruitcake?!.  These two sugar mavens challenged us to make sinfully delicious candies!  This was a special challenge for the Daring Bakers because the good folks at http://www.chocoley.com offered an amazing prize for the winner of the most creative and delicious candy!

Fortunately, I jumped right on this challenge and completed it 3 weeks ago! There’s no way I’d be making candy this weekend as we sit here waiting for hurricane Irene to hit. I’ll post soon about all the delicious things I’ve prepped for the promised power outages due to this big storm but for today, here are the sweet treats I made for this challenge.

My first ever attempt to temper chocolate. Not easy and not something I’ll be rushing to do again!

Tempered chocolate, shiny and smooth!

Making the innards of the truffles was a great deal easier and it was fun to be creative. I made an assorment and all were delicious

(From the upper left going clockwise) Mint ganache dipped in white chocolate, spiced nut bark, home made marzipan w/ dried cranberries dipped in dark chocolate, and chocolate dipped spiced carmelized nuts! Yum!

It was an interesting challenge and I’m glad I tried my hand at candy making but with a fabulous local chocolate shop close by (Munson’s) I think I’ll leave it to the experts.

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